Kolpas, Norman, Southwest Art
"The portrait is one of the most curious art forms," observed Henri Matisse. "It demands special qualities in the artist and an almost total kinship with the model." As the paintings showcased here demonstrate, that kinship may be easier to achieve, and the results more powerfully expressive, when the model, too, is an artist-a performing artist.
Performance and art go hand-in-hand for Sylvia Trybek. Before embarking on her full-time career as a painter, she spent six years as a costume designer for theater and opera productions in Houston, TX. She also describes herself modestly as an amateur piano player, while adding that her 22-year-old son is embarking on a professional career as a classical guitarist.
So Trybek brings true empathy to the musicians and dancers who frequently appear in her paintings. She also applies to these works an expertise in portraying the human figure that had its start at college in the 1970s in her native Gdansk, Poland. "My parents weren't excited that I wanted to study fine arts, so I had one year in medical school," she explains of her literally inside-out understanding of human anatomy. After emigrating to the United States in 1980, she eventually earned a master's degree in fine arts from the University of Houston. Since the mid-1990s she has been a full-time artist, working mostly with live models and using, as she describes them, "loose but precise, vivid and exciting brushstrokes to paint the essence of their beauty and character."
That approach translates into works as varied as serious studies of ballet dancers and GRAND PIANO, which depicts, in Trybek's words, "Two girls wriggling and giggling at a piano, a serious music teacher's worst nightmare." What unites these canvases is the emotional connection she has with her performing-arts subjects, regarding them "not as performers but as people." Trybek is represented by Brazier Fine Art Gallery, Richmond, VA; Galerie Gabrie, Pasadena, CA; and NanEtte Richardson Fine Art Gallery, San Antonio, TX.
One weekend afternoon in Paris three summers ago, strains of Mozart and Vivaldi drifting on the balmy air lured Marjorie Taylor into the historic Place des Vosges. There stood a group of casually clad young music students, performing live while also selling a CD they had recorded to support their studies. Out came Taylor's wallet to buy the CD, and out came her sketchbook and a pencil to capture the scene in numerous quick drawings. "It was a beautiful moment," the artist recalls. Weeks later, back in the studio of her San Diego, CA, home, she played the CD as she brought the moment back to life with quick, impressionistic brush strokes in oils on canvas as she created SUNDAY CONCERT IN PARIS.
Trained in graphic design and illustration, Taylor left a successful 14-year commercial career back in 1997 to pursue her dual loves of painting and travel full time. In addition to weeks-and months-long stays in France, Italy, and Guatemala, she has honed her skills by studying figurative painting with experts such as Kim English and John Asaro and taking workshops with pleinair masters such as Jove Wang and John Budicin. All her studies and journeys aim, she says, to help her "capture with a sense of immediacy the feeling of ways of life that are becoming more and more rare in our hectic society. I want my paintings to give viewers the feeling that they're walking by and just happen to look over and see-and hear-the scene." Find Taylor's works at Long Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ; The Bennett Street Gallery, Atlanta, GA; Villas and Verandas, San Juan Capistrano, CA; Cosmopolitan Fine Arts, La Jolla, CA; and The Gallery on Glassell, Orange, CA.
When teenager Mitch Caster began his studies in figurative drawing at the Denver Art School back in the mid-1970s, his search for ever-more-varied subjects led him to the ballet studio just down the street. "They would let me come in and sketch while they were practicing," he recalls. …